Pokhara, Nepal: Work experience with a difference

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It finally hit me as I returned home; I can no longer have dal bhat for breakfast!* My Nepalese adventure has been an unforgettable one filled with new experiences, crazy hospitals and incredible people. I loved the beauty and culture that makes Nepal the country it is, despite seeing the harsh reality of the country’s poverty. I shall try to briefly summarize what I learnt.

*the national nepali dish consisting of rice, lentil broth and vegetables, eaten for breakfast and dinner every day!

What I had seen of our NHS, despite its problems and criticisms, was treatments given with unlimited access to a relatively high standard. What I wanted to see was how our western hospital care compared with the rest of the world. What I discovered was our standard of care is remarkable and our compassionate doctor-patient relationships something we should always strive for and preserve. Here’s why:

Seeing the Western Regional Hospital was certainly eye opening. Mold grew thick, walls gaped open, sewage smells emanated around the wards- building maintenance for the only government funded hospital in the city being of low priority. Once in the ER, I saw how the fastidious cleaning and ’10 steps of hand hygiene’ of UK hospitals had failed to reach Nepal, as blood and vomit stained the unwashed floors and beds, and doctors moved round the 32 beds without the use of gloves or hand washing. Hospital infections were abundant, one poignant memory being a child with 80% skin burns who very sadly succumbed to an infection the day after her hospital admission. However what shocked me most was the relationship between patients and doctors. In obstetrics, the beauty of childbirth was removed as the male head of the department snapped at young women, barging in to perform procedures without a hint of discussion or respect for privacy. Women teetering on delivery were shepherded onto hard wooden benches and surround by nurses in wellies, rubber gloves and aprons shouting to ‘hurry’ and pushing on their bellies.

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I learnt gratitude for our NHS and our highest of standards that patients are right to demand. Never will I take for granted teaching on patient compassion and respect or hand hygiene, seeing the terrible effect of their absence. I loved my experience of the Nepalese hospital, for all its shocking scenes. I met some fantastic doctors and nurses, full of knowledge and willing to donate their time to teach me.

I was lucky to live with a wonderful Nepalese family, seeing the importance and influence of extended families living under one roof and the close family ties formed. As the children waved me good bye I felt tears spring but I felt blessed to know that I had people on the other side of the world who would consider me family.

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To top off my adventure, I was able to explore the beauty of Nepal and from sunrises to paragliding, rafting and trekking in the Himalayas I was constantly speechless at the natural beauty.

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All in all it was a fantastic adventure. I’m a very grateful girl, for every single ordinary item of luxury we have in the UK. I send a very big thank you to all those I met along my way.

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